GREG TAYLOR was in the thick of the another hit-and-miss Champions League night for Celtic.
The Scotland international left-back smacked a shot off the crossbar in the first-half and then looked on as RB Leipzig netted twice in the last 15 minutes to seal a 2-0 triumph at Parkhead.
It means the Champions League ambitions have been dynamited after only four games in which Ange Postecoglou’s men have lost three times and gained a draw.
It was yet another night of what-might-have-been in the east end of Glasgow as a procession of chance came and went without the rival keeper being tasked with fishing the ball out of the back of his net.
KYOGO CALAMITY…the Japanese striker expresses his disappointment after sending a header over the bar.
Taylor, though, is convinced the champions are not far away from being able to perform consistently at this level.
The defender’s big chance arrived in the 27th minute just seconds after Matt O’Riley had drilled a low shot against the base of the left-hand post. A natural predator would have buried the rebound, but, unfortunately, the full-back was off balance when the ball rebounded back to him.
He didn’t make a clean connection as the effort spiralled up onto the face of the crossbar and Daizen Maeda then headed wide from that ricochet.
Taylor admitted: “I probably could’ve caught it a bit cleaner, but it came off the bar and then it doesn’t fall for us. But that’s what this level is, we’re a bit deflated.
“I thought we were looking good at that spell and again for periods right throughout the game. Maybe they started the night stronger and finished a bit stronger, but certainly that middle chunk we were right in that game, which is the sickening part.”
ON THE SPOT…Giorgos Giakoumakis claims a penalty-kick for a push, but the referee is having none of it.
Asked if the Hoops have a long way to go to be a threat at this level, Taylor answered: “I wouldn’t say so. But with performances it doesn’t show that way, but in results it does.
“It’s just the elite level, I’ve said it before, we need to be that bit more ruthless at both ends and we’re not quite there yet. We have played well within the game. Everyone in the stadium can see that.
“There’s a team playing our football, we’re not deviating away from that at all. Every boy out there, the subs who came on, gave their absolute all for this club.
“That’s one thing I definitely want to say, the work the boys are putting in – defence, the whole group – is tremendous. We’re desperate for success, we wanted to show that we belong at this level. We really do.
“The fans who come with us home and away, we want to give them a night that they go home thinking: ‘That was a right good Celtic team and a strong performance.’ But we’re just not there yet.”
IN THE DARK…Ange Postecoglou is a man alone as Celtic crash out of the Champions League.
Now Shakhtar Donetsk, robbed by a stoppage-time goal of a win over Real Madrid last night, are next up in Glasgow in a fortnight’s time and the campaign is completed with a match in the Bernabeu on November 2.
A place in the Europa League is still there to be fought for and Taylor, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “Two games to go and it’s going to be difficult. Of course it is.
“We need to beat Shakhtar first of all and then see where we’re at come the last game.
“It’s easy for me to say we’re not far away from the first win because we’ve not done it yet.
“I’m hurting, we’re all hurting right now, but all we can do is keep going and try to improve.”